Bed bugs sometimes are regarded as a pest specific to homes in need of cleaning, but data and local expertise say it’s a common issue that can plague any residence.
Nearly all pest control professionals will see a bed bug infestation over a 12-month span, with 97% reportedly dealing with the insects, according to the most recent date from the National Pest Management Association. More than 50% of exterminators tabbed summer as the busiest time of year, according to the 2018 study.
Even when there is an infestation, that doesn’t mean an area is unclean, St. Joseph Housing Authority Executive Director Jeff Penland said.
“A lot of people think that, you know, if you’re clean, got a clean environment, you’re not going to get bed bugs,” he said. “That’s not the case. They’re so prevalent nowadays that you see them in four, five-star hotels, you know, they get passed via public transportation sometimes.”
Penland see the pests more frequently than in the past but said he doesn’t know how they became so prevalent.
The housing authority uses treatments year-round as a preventative measure on its properties since bed bugs are so common, he said.
“We face treatment pretty much day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out,” he said. “Good, recurring treatment plans are how you keep up on them and keep that pest infestation down.”
Sometimes individuals are able to identify bed bugs on their own, Penland said, but the bugs can look similar to other insects.
“Depending on the infestation, we can see them,” he said. “We rely on the professionals that treat them to identify them. That brings up a good point. A lot of people think they might have bed bugs and it’s a different type of beetle or a different type of bug.”
Eighty-four percent of pest-control professionals originally were contacted for a different type of insect that ended up being a bed bug, according to the National Pest Management Association.
The housing authority partners with a company that uses chemical treatments to fight the insects, but Penland said heat-based methods work as well.